On This Day
1959 – Alaska is admitted as the 49th U.S. state.
Alaska (/əˈlæskə/ (About this soundlisten); Aleut: Alax̂sxax̂; Inupiaq: Alaasikaq; Alutiiq: Alas’kaaq; Tlingit: Anáaski; Russian: Аляска, romanized: Alyaska) is a U.S. state in the northwest extremity of the United States West Coast, just across the Bering Strait from Asia. The Canadian province of British Columbia and territory of Yukon border the state to the east and southeast. Its most extreme western part is Attu Island, and it has a maritime border with Russia (Chukotka Autonomous Okrug) to the west across the Bering Strait. To the north are the Chukchi and Beaufort seas—southern parts of the Arctic Ocean. The Pacific Ocean lies to the south and southwest. It is the largest U.S. state by area and the seventh largest subnational division in the world. In addition, it is the 3rd least populous and the most sparsely populated of the 50 United States; nevertheless, it is by far the most populous territory located mostly north of the 60th parallel in North America: its population—estimated at 738,432 by the United States Census Bureau in 2015—is more than quadruple the combined populations of Northern Canada and Greenland. Approximately half of Alaska’s residents live within the Anchorage metropolitan area. Alaska’s economy is dominated by the fishing, natural gas, and oil industries, resources which it has in abundance. United States armed forces bases and tourism are also a significant part of the economy.
On March 30, 1867, the United States purchased Alaska from the Russian Empire for 7.2 million U.S. dollars, or approximately two cents per acre ($4.74/km2). The area went through several administrative changes before becoming organized as a territory on May 11, 1912. It was admitted as the 49th state of the U.S. on January 3, 1959.
Born On This Day
1915 – Jack Levine, American painter and soldier (d. 2010)
Jack Levine (January 3, 1915 – November 8, 2010) was an American Social Realist painter and printmaker best known for his satires on modern life, political corruption, and biblical narratives.
Born to Lithuanian Jewish parents, Levine grew up in the South End of Boston, where he observed a street life composed of European immigrants and a prevalence of poverty and societal ills, subjects which would inform his work. He first studied drawing with Harold K. Zimmerman from 1924-1931. At Harvard University from 1929 to 1933, Levine and classmate Hyman Bloom studied with Denman Ross. As an adolescent, Levine was already, by his own account, “a formidable draftsman”. In 1932 Ross included Levine’s drawings in an exhibition at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard, and three years later bequeathed twenty drawings by Levine to the museum’s collection. Levine’s early work was most influenced by Bloom, Chaim Soutine, Georges Rouault, and Oskar Kokoschka. Along with Bloom and Karl Zerbe, he became associated with the style known as Boston Expressionism.
From 1935 to 1940 he was employed by the Works Progress Administration. His first exhibition of paintings in New York City was at the Museum of Modern Art, with the display of Card Game and Brain Trust, the latter drawn from his observation of life in the Boston Common. In 1937 his The Feast of Pure Reason, a satire of Boston political power, was placed on loan to the Museum of Modern Art. In the same year String Quartet was shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and purchased in 1942 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The death of his father in 1939 prompted a series of paintings of Jewish sages.
From 1942 to 1945 Levine served in the Army. Upon his discharge from service he painted Welcome Home, a lampoon of the arrogance of military power; years later the painting would engender political controversy when it was included in a show of art in Moscow, and along with works by other American artists, raised suspicions in the House Un-American Activities Committee of pro-Communist sympathies. In 1946 he married the painter Ruth Gikow and moved to New York City.
With a Fulbright grant he traveled to Europe in 1951, and was affected by the work of the Old Masters, particularly the Mannerism of El Greco, which inspired him to distort and exaggerate the forms of his figures for expressive purposes. After returning he continued to paint biblical subjects, and also produced Gangster Funeral, a narrative which Levine referred to as a “comedy”. Further commentary on American life was furnished by Election Night (1954), Inauguration (1958), and Thirty- Five Minutes from Times Square (1956). Also in the late 1950s, Levine painted a series of sensitive portraits of his wife and daughter. In the 1960s Levine responded not only to political unrest in the United States with works such as Birmingham ’63, but to international subjects as well, as in The Spanish Prison (1959–62), and later still, Panethnikon (1978), and The Arms Brokers, 1982-83. Following the death of his wife in the 1980s came an increased interest in Hebraism, and with it a proliferation of paintings with themes from the Old Testament. In 1979 he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member and became a full Academician in 1982.
Levine’s work is featured in many public collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Museum of American Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Brooklyn Museum, the Phillips Collection, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Fogg Art Museum, and the National Gallery of Art. In 1973 the Vatican purchased Cain and Abel (1961), to the satisfaction of Pope Paul VI. In 1978 a retrospective of Levine’s work was held at the Jewish Museum (New York).
Levine was the subject of a 1989 film documentary entitled Feast of Pure Reason.
Levine died at his home in Manhattan, New York on November 8, 2010 at the age of 95.
DC Moore Gallery represents the Estate of Jack Levine. The first exhibition of his works at the gallery was in January 2010.
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